IN THE HOUSE ~ Question Period ~ on Canada-Colombia free trade agreement

40th Parliament, 2nd Session

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today, the Prime Minister and the leader of the Liberal Party are rolling out the red carpet for a leader who has the worst human rights record in the western hemisphere. In Colombia, dozens of labour activists and human rights advocates are killed each year. Hundreds more simply disappear. Four million poor farmers have been forced off of their resource-rich land.

All of this is done by brutal paramilitary thugs that are linked to the president and his regime. The government wants to reward the president. Does it not realize that the regime's hands are stained with blood?
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Mr. Gerald Keddy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I really do wish that this hon. member would stop hiding behind his ideology. The reality is that the NDP have never supported a free trade agreement, including the auto pact.

The situation with Colombia is not going to be solved by isolating Colombia from the rest of the world. The situation in Colombia will be enhanced by free trade. There would be more jobs, opportunity and expansion of human rights under jobs and opportunity.

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Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, human rights is not an ideology. It is a principle that this party of Conservatives should be adhering to.

A recently declassified U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report describes President Uribe as “a Colombian politician dedicated to collaboration with the Medellín Cartel at high government levels. Uribe is a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar”.

He is a notorious drug lord. Why is the Prime Minister and the leader of the Liberal Party legitimizing this criminal regime?

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Mr. Gerald Keddy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this government believes that improving human rights is inextricably linked to the economy, jobs and opportunity. We have proven time and time again that when people have better jobs and more opportunity, human rights improve.

The reality and principle here is that the NDP are simply against anything that improves the status of any group of people that involves a free trade agreement. Whether it was the free trade agreement with Peru, Colombia or Mexico, they have never supported a free trade agreement.